A few months ago, Gap stores introduced the “Red” line of clothing, letting the clothing company look somewhat altruistic by giving some of the proceeds to fight AIDS in Africa.
When I first saw the ads, I wanted to do my part to help fight AIDS in Africa by wearing a shirt that says “Inspi(red)” but really means “While the rest of you fashion philistines shop at J Crew or Banana Republic, I’m doing my part to help fight AIDS in Africa. Well, mostly it’s helping the Gap’s bottom line and quarterly earnings, but a portion of the proceeds, at least, goes to help fight AIDS in Africa.”
I visited the Gap, ready to stem off any white, AIDS-free guilt by buying an overpriced Gap T-shirt. Imagine my surprise, though, to learn that the Gap’s normal outrageous prices had been made even higher, as the “Red” shirts had been bumped from the regular $25 mark to $35.
I had two problems. First, I’m not going to pay $35 for a T-shirt. I no longer buy concert T-shirts for that very reason. It’s just silly.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, all the Gap did was raise the price by $10, meaning they didn’t seem to lose any finances in this endeavor. They could pocket the $25 normally charged for a T-shirt and send the remaining $10 over to fight AIDS in Africa, and all the while, they’re not out anything. In fact, they probably stand to make more money once customers continued purchasing khakis, jeans and other Gap-related items to go with their “Red” clothes.
Be that as it may, I still wanted to do something, so I set out to find the cheapest, yet most fashionably acceptable article in the store. I located a $10 bracelet featuring a red bead that supposedly has some ties to Africa, but if it’s not a blood diamond, frankly, I don’t care. I made the purchase and left the store feeling decent about myself.
A couple of weeks ago, I returned to the Gap, only to find that the “Red” line was now on clearance, and the T-shirt I wanted had been marked down to $10. I faced a moral dilemma. Do I make a stand and refuse to buy the shirt, saying it would have been better of me to have done so when the money, even if a fraction, was going to charity rather than as a last-ditch effort to turn some sort of profit? Or do I make the purchase and make it clear that I care less about AIDS in African than I do cash in my wallet?
I bought the shirt.
I am a bad person.
But at least I look nice.